Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

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Brendan Guilfoyle Profile

Where From? 

Urlingford Co. Kilkenny originally, but Limerick has been home for the past 20 years.

Age you started playing rugby?

12 in Thurles RFC.

Your position? 

Back row

Former Clubs? 

Thurles, Old Crescent, Buccaneers, Malahide, Thomond and Young Munsters

Representative Honours?

Up to U-21 with Munster and represented Ireland at Rugby League World Cup in 2008

Best Coach Ever Played Under? 

Mike Prendergast. Mike’s delivery and attention to detail was another level and I always learned and progressed through training and games under Mike. 

Best Teammate & Toughest opponent?

Some of my closest friend were part of an Old Crescent team from about 8 years ago so that group would be the best teammates I’ve had. 

I always liked playing in a local derby up against players I knew were tough or good. As an 8, it was usually an opposition 7 that I found the toughest. Leonard Slattery in Thomond and Ivan Muldoon in Wegians always stick out, but there were plenty more over the last 20 seasons of AIL. 

Biggest Influence on Your Career?

Matt Te Pou was my first senior coach and certainly instilled a lot of confidence in me that allowed me to push on with playing a lot of senior rugby as a young player. Watching Sonny Bill Williams play rugby definitely influenced how I’ve tried to play and coach over the years. 

Coaching Career to Date

Player coach at Thomond, Old Crescent and Malahide. Achieved AIL promotion with all 3 clubs.

Reflections on Wegians 2022 CSL Campaign? 

Very positive CSL that showed us the huge potential that is in Wegians. 

Ambitions for Wegians Seniors this Year? 

As a coaching team we want to bring out the best in the players. If we can achieve that then we believe we will be in a great position come the business end of the season. 

Shane O’Brien Profile

Men’s Backs and Skills Coach

Where From?

Limerick

Age you started playing rugby?

Aged 8

Your position?

Out half

Playing Career Highlight?

Winning promotions with Old Crescent & Malahide. Senior & Junior Cup medals with Young Munster.

Best Coach Ever Played Under?

Hard to name one. I have been very lucky with coaches

Best Teammate & Toughest opponent?

John Shine always come to mind.

Biggest Influence on Your Career?

Nobody in particular, have met plenty good rugby people throughout my career

Coaching Career to Date

Young Munster U20s backs coach for two seasons.

Reflections on Wegians 2022 CSL Campaign?

Was happy with 3 wins and the commitment during pre season.

Ambitions for Wegians Seniors this Year?

To be in the mix for a top 4 finish

Jarrad Butler Profile

Where From? 

Paraparaumu, New Zealand

Age you started playing rugby – School or Club? 

9 years old

Your position? 

Backrow

Former Clubs?

East Tigers Brisbane, Tuggernong Vikings Canberra

Representative Honours? 

Barbarians in 2017

Playing Career Highlight?

First professional cap

Best Coach Ever Played Under?

I’ve learnt a lot from many coaches

Best Teammate & Toughest opponent?

 I’ve had lots of great teammates, my toughest opponent was probably Ma’a Nonu. 

Biggest Influence on Your Career? 

My mum. She got me to all the trainings and games growing up.

Coaching Career to Date.. Clubs…

 2019-2021 Galwegians women seniors, 2022-Current Galwegians mens seniors.

Reflections on Wegians 2022 CSL Campaign? 

Really positive preseason with a strong core group of guys.

We’ve made some massive strides in how we want to play and we saw that in a number of performances in the CSL.

Ambitions for Wegians Seniors this Year?

I believe we have everything we need to be in the fight for promotion at the end of this season.

Personally I want to instill pride into our defence and make it a real weapon of ours.

Don Crowley – RIP

Don Crowley
Don Crowley

It is with huge regret that we announce the passing of our former club President and one of our seven past Presidents of the IRFU, Don Crowley, on August 16th peacefully in the loving care of his family.

A Galway City native educated at The Bish, Don was a distinguished open-side flanker during his playing career. He won a Connacht Schools Senior Cup medal and captained Connacht Schools XV, before studying engineering where he won a Connacht Schools Senior Cup medal with UCG. However at club level he would go on to have a life-long association with Galwegians, with whom he also won a Connacht Junior League medal.

After hanging up his boots, Don retained his involvement with Wegians where he became a club legend and one of our greatest ambassadors. He had the honour of being President of Galwegians during the famous club tour of Canada in 1977. After serving as club President, he then went on to serve his province in a lengthy and distinguished career. His administrative talents saw him serve as Hon. Secretary of the Connacht Branch from 1981 to 1989, before being elected Branch President for the 1993/1994 season.

At national level his abilities were soon spotted, and he was first elected as a delegate to the IRFU Committee in 1987/88. He would sit on a range of various sub-committees, notably the Charitable Trust for 11 years. In 2002/03 he achieved a personal ambition when he was elected to the highest office in Irish Rugby by becoming President of the IRFU. Quoted at the time, he said: ““I am very proud on a personal level and also for my club Galwegians and the Connacht Branch. After my very enjoyable playing career, I was very happy to serve the game at club, provincial and National level.” 

That year his club Galwegians held a celebratory dinner in his honour where over 300 friends and club colleagues attended a memorable event in the then Galway Radisson Hotel. It would also prove to be a momentous season, as the fate of Connacht rugby and its funding was under serious threat from the IRFU at the time. However under Don’s Presidency and stewardship, and with strong public backing from the grassroots rugby community, the province’s professional status was preserved.

A hugely popular man, Don’s efficiency and personality made him perfect for the role of liaison officer to major touring teams coming into Ireland down the years, including the All Blacks, Australians, South Africa, the Barbarians, Italy, Canada and Fiji. Tributes have been pouring in for Don since news of his passing, best summarised by Galwegians President Frank Kinneen who described him thus: “Don Crowley ..our incredible statesman, life-long member of Galwegians and an absolute gentleman. May he rest in peace.”

Don is survived by his loving wife Vicky and children, so to them and his extended family we extend our heartfelt sympathies.

Galwegians – 100 Not Out

President Carl Blake

As we finish the season 2021-22, we have many reasons to reflect on a year of progress for our great club Galwegians RFC. Let’s remember that before the season started last autumn, we had just endured 18 months of lockdown, when we had virtually no rugby nor even any social activity. So to end a season which saw all of our teams able to field and compete, and with social occasions near back to normal, we have many reasons to be grateful for the season past.

Of course there were some significant milestones along the way. We are well into our centenary year, and there are some exciting plans about to be unveiled by our centenary working committee in the coming weeks. However as well as celebrating 100 years past, I want us to look forward with optimism that our club will be around for the next 100 years. 

The sale of our grounds Crowley Park in December was a hugely significant moment in this. Remember that the deal negotiated sees our new landlords GMIT (or now the ATU) giving us a lease of up to 10 years to remain in Glenina, until we find our new home. In the coming weeks we will be spending our recent Sports Capital grant on some vital upgrading of facilities. And with the sale out of the way, the committee, and especially the Development sub-committee, can now really focus its attention on finding a location to develop fit-for-purpose grounds. This will safeguard our long-term future as a vibrant thriving club serving the needs of our local community.

In terms of the here and now, it’s time to focus on our exciting plans for next season on and off the field. Work has already started, and I believe that our adult teams, men’s and women’s, have good reason to be optimistic for 2022-23. Our underage structure is of course vital, and last week our Youths coaches and managers had a very energetic and inspiring session to set out our stall for the season ahead. We all know that we are in a very competitive space with other clubs, and not just rugby. But we are up for the challenge and ready to play to our strengths to put our best foot forward. 

Let’s not forget though that to run a successful amateur club, we will always rely hugely on volunteers.  We are blessed to have some terrific role model volunteers in Galwegians, who give so selflessly of your time. One of my most difficult tasks this year was choosing the Club Person of the Year. Abe Afolabi was a hugely deserving winner, but there were so many stand-out contenders to choose from. We just need to find a few more to spread the load.

This weekend gives a perfect opportunity to demonstrate this. We have ca. 30 volunteers signed up to roll up their sleeves and help out in the Club Clean-Up to spruce up the clubhouse and grounds. If you haven’t yet signed up, please lend us a hand if you can. 

Can I also encourage as many people as possible to attend our AGM next Wednesday evening (June 15th 7pm) to reflect on the year past, and make some positive contributions for next year. 

Finally, to all our volunteers who have helped out this year on or off the field in whatever capacity, I just want to express my sincere thanks for all that you have done. There were so many highlights that I will treasure for many years in remembering my term as club President. It has been a real privilege to serve you. While I hand over to my successor next week, I will certainly remain active next season. We all have a role to play, and I really look forward to working with you all to help us restore our rightful place as the leading club in Connacht.

#WegiansAbú

Carl Blake,
President 2021-22

Senior Club Awards 2022

Women’s 1st XVPlayer of The YearMairead Coyne
Players’ Player of the YearLisa Marie Murphy
Most Improved PlayerSaskia Morrissey
Women’s 2nd XVPlayer of The YearAoife Williams
Players’ Player of the YearRuby Lynch
Most Improved PlayerAnn Marie Herward
Men’s 1st XVPlayer of The Year Christy Reilly
Players’ Player of the YearBen McGuinness
Men’s 2nd XVPlayer of The YearConor O’Reilly
Players’ Player of the YearCormac Furey
Men’s 3rd XVPlayer of The YearNeill Walsh
Players’ Player of the YearDylan Donohoe
Men’s Under 20sPlayer of The YearEvan Brady
Players’ Player of the Year George Hill
Club Person of the YearAbraham Afolabi

AGM Wed June 15th 7pm

The Galwegians RFC AGM will be held on Wed June 15th at 7pm in Crowley Park.

We thought it opportune to remind or inform members of the purpose of the AGM.

Fundamentally, it is a formal review of the previous year, which leads into the election of club officers and Board of Management.

The current Board would like to encourage the active participation of members in the AGM and would welcome interest in some of the key officer roles for next season.

Our Club Constitution is accessible on the club website

Youth Academy Awards 2022

The Galwegians RFC Youth Academy Awards ceremony was held in glorious sunshine on Wednesday evening April 27th at Crowley Park. A huge turn-out by youths players, coaches, managers & parents saw over 20 individual awards presented on the night by club President Carl Blake.

The event was superbly organised by Master of Ceremonies, the Galwegians Director of Youths Football Mickey Sherlock, who thanked all the coaches, managers, parents and family members for supporting the club throughout the year. However he singled out the Youth teams and players for specific mention, as they are what the evening was all about and who represent the future of the club. He also cited the fact that no less than seven members of the current Galwegians Senior Men’s AIL squad are recent products of Galwegians Mini-rugby and the Youths systems, emphasising the progression pathway which is there for young players within the club.

Galwegians are celebrating their centenary this year. Two of the underage boys’ teams (U13’s & U18.5’s) have just this month completed memorable tours to Portugal and France respectively, and Wegians are planning tours next season for the underage teams.

Before presenting the individual prizes, President Carl Blake addressed the large attendance and also thanked and praised all involved for running a very successful underage season. He also singled out Director of Youths Football Mickey Sherlock himself for overseeing this hugely important part of the club all year and for masterminding the Awards event. He also stressed the importance of young players both staying involved and also helping recruit more friends to join and give rugby a try. 

Both the President and Director of Youths emphasised that while their grounds in Crowley Park were recently sold to GMIT (now ATU), that Galwegians have a bright future and will remain for hopefully another 100 years. They have up to 10 years to remain at Crowley Park but are working hard sourcing new playing grounds.

Besides the underage player awards, the final act saw the presentation of the Galwegians Youth Rugby Person of the year Award, which acknowledges an individual who has gone above and beyond the role of volunteerism during the year. And for outstanding contribution as a parent, coach, organiser and volunteer in many areas of the club, this year’s deserving recipient is Dervilla Hehir Campbell.

Coaches’ Player of YearPlayers’ Player of YearMost Improved
U13 BoysOisin ParkerDavid Casserly
Martin Sweeney
U14 BoysDara O’CaoileannAlban HarteAlex Kavanagh
U15 BoysDaithi Mac CearraIsaac KellyRobert Bradley
U16 BoysJames KeaneCallum ElwoodMiguel Rubio (Valladolid RAC, Spain)
U16 GirlsJemma LeesSara KennellyEadaoin Connolly
U17 BoysShay Mc GovernIarla CollinsSean Malone

Meet Chairman Mike Ryan

Where are you from?

Reared in centre of town and living in Salthill for past 34 years.

Family? 

Wife Carmel, two daughters, Michelle & Alison and a son, Frank, who played up to U18 for Club.

First Joined Wegians?

1979

Teams Played?

Thirds mostly, Seconds and Firsts when they were really stuck, like late call ups for trips up North.

Previous Roles in the Club? 

Thirds captain, Club Secretary, Coach in Youths Section.

Career 

Qualified as a Solicitor in 1980, founded M G Ryan & Co in 1983 and recently retired. Former President of the Galway Solicitors Bar Association.

Hobbies Outside Rugby

The great outdoors generally be it on the road or mountain bike, the ocean, mountains and have a particular grá for the Aran Islands and the Alps where I spend some time and will be operating remotely from at times.

I am an active member of St Vincent de Paul Society and currently President of the Salthill Conference as well as a member of the Board that runs Croi na Gaillimhe, the resource centre in Mill Street.

I am my wife’s garden labourer. Member of Fr Griffin’s GAA club and avid spectator-viewer of all sports except cricket.

Your Hopes or Aspirations?

Hoping to join with a hard working team in making the Club the premier Club in Connacht again in new state of the art facilities.

Sincerely hope that all members past and president will come on board.

Ní neart go cur le chéile.

COVID Christmas advice from our club doctor

Variants are inevitable in viral infections and the appearance of them has been predicted from the start of the pandemic. Information on Omicron is relatively sparse compared to what we know about previous variants, but the early signs do show that it is probably much more transmissible than the most recent named one, that being Delta.

This is a rapidly changing landscape. However, for now the sensible thing to do is to proceed with caution.

  • Try to limit close contacts, especially in poorly ventilated rooms.
  • Sanitise/Wash your hands. 
  • Avoid hugging and handshakes.
  • Be especially careful around people with weakened immune systems (the older age groups, diabetics, people on immunosuppressive drugs, those receiving treatment for cancer etc).
  • Wear a mask where and when requested.

And if you don’t feel comfortable with the amount of people around you, just leave. There’s no need to even make an excuse.  Just leave and stay safe.  

But this phase too will pass, and we have given ourselves the best chance we can by being vaccinated and maintaining the simple rules that have served us quite well since March 2020. And the future months may provide more hope than we can foresee at the moment.

So I encourage you all to stay the course, get your booster, protect each other by taking simple steps, and above all, have a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year.

Hopefully the next time I am writing, we will be in a much brighter situation.

David Bouchier-Hayes, Galwegians COVID Officer

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